Union County Court of Appeals Cases, 1820-1977
(Updated: April 13, 2015)
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Court of Appeals Case Files (1820-1950)
These records contain original documents filed in each cause in original actions and appellate actions heard before the Supreme Court, District Court, Circuit Court and Court of Appeals in Union County. They show the case number, defendant, and plaintiff; including affidavits, depositions, petitions, motions and judgments of the court.
The Ohio Constitution of 1802 created a Supreme Court. This court was given original jurisdiction in all civil cases where the title of land was in question and any matters exceeding a value of $1,000. This jurisdiction was held concurrently with the courts of common pleas. Exclusive jurisdiction was granted to the Supreme Court in cases of divorce and alimony and all criminal cases involving capital punishment. The court finally had appellate jurisdiction over all cases where the court of common pleas had original jurisdiction. The law finally required that at least two justices of Supreme Court were to hold court once a year in each county in the state of Ohio.
The growth of the state in subsequent years placed a terrible burden on the justices of the Supreme Court. In 1851, Ohio revised its constitution and created an intermediate appellate court known as the District Court. It was to be composed of one Supreme Court Judge and judges of the common pleas court, any three of whom constituted a quorum, as the legislature divided the state into judicial districts. The District Court was given the same original jurisdiction as the Supreme Court and appellate jurisdiction from the common pleas courts.
The District Courts had many inherent difficulties in their operations that time only exposed more and more effectively. Many attempts were made to reform the court, but they were overall unsuccessful. In 1885, the District Courts were abolished and replaced with Circuit Courts. The state was divided into circuits and an independent panel of judges elected in each judicial district. The Circuit Courts, like their predecessors, were required to hold court in every county in the circuit at least once a year. The Circuit Court was given limited original jurisdiction, being the same with the Supreme Court and heard cases on petitions of error from the common pleas courts.
The constitutional convention of 1912 once again took up the matter of the judiciary. However, “the framework of the judicial structure itself was changed but little.” The Circuit Courts were renamed Courts of Appeal. Common pleas court cases were appealed first to the Court of Appeals and from there they could proceed to the Supreme Court for final determination. It is under this structure, with slight modifications since then, that has remained in place to the current day.